ACT - Core Concepts/Processes
As educators, we know that there are countless benefits to creating a nurturing and collaborative environment where SEL is modeled and interwoven into the classroom culture. Lotus Flowers and Superpowers promotes and organically nurtures this conviction through its storyline, metaphors, and experiential and mindfulness exercises that are active and fun.
The book introduces the reader to Acceptance and Commitment Training's six core processes in an engaging, creative, non-technical way. We accompany two Koi fish, Fry, and Flex, on their journey as they use the ACT framework to navigate their world and commit to actions that enrich their lives.
In a therapeutic setting, ACT professionals use the six core processes to help reduce psychological rigidity and develop "psychological flexibility," known as "The superpower of mental health and well-being."
In an educational setting these same core processes, known as the "hexaflex," can be used in a more flexible, principle-driven way to help students master new psychological skills. Strategies that help learners develop a different perspective on their thoughts and emotions and how to remain present. How to adapt to life's challenges, take purposeful action even when things are complicated, and stay true to their values - what Fry would refer to as "living with all your heart."
The big SIX in a nutshell. "Each one interdependent and reliant on the others." (Dr. Russ Harris, Ph.D.).
Acceptance or "Let it Be"
Acceptance refers to opening up and making room for, even welcoming, the inevitable unpleasant thoughts, emotions, and events of the human experience. Rather than expending our energy trying to change, avoid or escape the things that cause us pain and suffering, acceptance helps us make these experiences part of our story. It teaches that contacting a range of thoughts, feelings, and emotions, good and bad, is part of feeling fully alive.
Cognitive Defusion or "Let it Go"
Cognitive defusion or defusion relates to skills that help us recognize our thoughts as just that…thoughts - images or words inside our mind. They are not who we are and are not necessarily true or helpful. Thoughts are simply our clever brain doing its job, trying to figure things out. Defusion allows us to unhook from our thoughts rather than be consumed by them - to look "at" our thoughts, rather than "from" them.
Contacting the Present Moment or "Stay Here"
Contacting the present moment involves being mindful of things happening in and around our mind and body, right here, right now, as opposed to worrying about things that have occurred in the past or may happen in the future.
Self-as-Context or "Notice Yourself"
Self as context refers to "the observing self," the "you" that notices what you are thinking, feeling, and experiencing over time. The core of who you are on the inside, the "you" that is aware of your body, relationships, values, and roles changing as you go through life but remains constant.
Values or "Choose What Matters"
Values are the people and things that matter to us the most, the kind of person we want to be, and what we will stand for. Values act like a compass to help steer us in the direction we want our life to take.
Committed Action or "Do What Matters"
Having identified our values, committed actions are steps we take, the behaviors and actions we engage in that lead us in their direction.
* Dr Tamar Black, Educational and Developmental Psychologist and Author uses child-friendly terms for these 6 core processes in her book ACT for Treating Children - Tamar's terminology is in green. (ACT for Treating Children: The Essential Guide to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Kids, 2022, New Harbinger Publications)